Are you new to full spectrum LED grow lights? If so, you can’t miss out on these “enlightening” tips. In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know before buying LED grow lights.
Why most prefer LED Lights
In many respects, LED grow lights are hot because they’re cool…literally. Unlike high-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights, LEDs don’t give off a ton of energy or heat. This makes LEDs super friendly for the environment and your wallet.
LEDs are also lighter and easier to set up than HIDs. Beginners have no problems plugging LEDs into an electrical socket and turning them on. Some LED lights are also quite flexible, making it easy to fit into almost any grow space.
What Features Should You Look For In LED Lights?
If you’re convinced LED grow lights are right for you, then you’re probably wondering how to choose the right brand. To help you on your quest, let’s run through a few significant features.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Look for when Buying Full Spectrum LED Lights?
Not all LED lights emit the variety of wavelengths necessary for optimal marijuana growth. For an effective indoor grow, you must ensure your LED lights give off a full spectrum of colors.
Thankfully, many manufacturers make full-spectrum LED lights specifically for cannabis growing. Just to be on the safe side, ensure your LED has “full-spectrum” on the label.
Standard or COB LED Lights?
When you’re looking into different LED lights, you’ll notice some have a purple tint while others appear bright white. What’s the deal with these different colors?
Well, the purple lights are considered “standard” LED in cannabis growing circles. These lights get their purplish tint due to a mixture of red and blue LEDs. The “white lights,” however, are a new LED model known as COB (“chip on board”).
COB LEDs are pricier than standard LEDs, but they are far more intense and produce higher yields. Plus, most COB LEDs are more energy-efficient compared with purple LEDs. Since COBs are white rather than purple, some growers claim they have an easier time thoroughly examining their plants.
No matter what light model you use, please protect your peepers with a pair of protective glasses.
Are Your Lights Dimmable?
A convenient feature available on some LED grow lights is a dimmer. Being able to control how bright your LEDs shine helps maximize yield and reduces the risk of light burn. Plus, by controlling your light output, you could save on electricity bills.
As you’d expect, most of the models that have dimmers are a tad pricy. However, this energy-saving feature might be worth a higher upfront fee.
What's the difference between PAR, PFD, and PPFD?
As you’re shopping for your LED system, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the barrage of technical terms on each product. Although you don’t have to know every technical detail, you should be familiar with a few essential terms. Don’t worry if you slept through science class; we’ll try to make this lesson as simple as possible.
Before we get into PAR and PPFD, keep in mind cannabis plants are far more sensitive to lightwaves than humans are. So, when measuring light intensity in horticulture, we can’t rely on measurements that only account for what humans perceive (e.g., LUX).
To understand the amount of light cannabis can photosynthesize, we first have to examine PAR (aka Photosynthetic Active Radiation). The PAR, expressed as W/m2, tells us how much light your unit can produce for photosynthesis. PAR does not, however, tell you anything about the light’s strength.
For more detailed info, we need to consider the Photosyhtnetic Photon Flux (PPF) and the Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD). Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the PPF should only express the PAR per second (μmol/s). The PPFD, on the other hand, takes area into account (µmol/m²s).
Technically, the PPFD is telling you how many photons are hitting one square meter of space every second. Since PPFD takes area into account, you’ll notice different measurements at different heights.
Although marijuana cultivators have different ideas for the ideal PPFD, most people subscribe to the following ranges:
- 200 – 400 PPFD for early stages of development
- 400 – 600 PPFD for the vegetative stage
- 600 – 900 PPFD for the flowering stage
Common Issues With LED Grow Lights
Just because most LED grow lights are easy to set up doesn’t mean you can’t run into problems. Here are two of the most common issues people have with LEDs and how to fix them.
Don’t Burn Your Buds!: Avoiding Light Burn
Yes, LED grow lights are less intense than HIDs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t burn your buds. Many COB LEDs can be just as bright as high-grade HIDs.
Unfortunately, there’s no optimal distance for every LED light. Figuring out what works best for your buds requires daily monitoring and experimentation. Always inspect your flowers for warning signs of light burn, which includes yellow fan leaves, brown-edged leaves, and bleach-white buds.
In general, you should keep your LED grow lights at least 18” away from your plants during the flowering stage. During all other stages of development, you might need to keep your LED lights between 20 – 30” away for optimal growth.
Watch Out For Overwatering
One mistake that experienced cannabis growers make when using LED lights is overwatering their plants. Usually, this is an issue for growers who are transitioning to LEDs after using HIDs.
Since HID lights are so intense, they dry out the soil much faster than LED light setups. To avoid potentially overwatering your plants, please check the soil instead of blindly following a pre-determined schedule.
What LED Grow Lights Should You Buy?
Now that you have a basic understanding of LED grow lights, it’s time to take a look at the best brands on the market. All of the products listed below are highly respected in the cannabis growing community.
The Beginner Setup: VIPARSPECTRA 300W LED Grow Light
New cultivators without a ton of dough to blow should take a look at the VIPARSPECTRA 300W LED Grow Light. This well-known brand is one of the most popular budget setups for many good reasons.
Besides its low price point, growers appreciate VIPARSPECTRA’s silent cooling fans, high-quality scattered LED chips, and decent light intensity. Official PPFD levels are 300 at 24” and about 480 at 18”.
On the downside, this VIPARSPECTRA only covers a relatively small space. Also, this unit isn’t waterproof and doesn’t have a dimmer. However, considering you could get this grow light for under $100, it’s a fantastic buy for beginner growers.
- Average price under $100
- Weighs 6.4 pounds
- Measures 12.8” x 8” x 2.8”
- Covers 2’ x 2’ space at 24”
- Covers 1.5’ x 1.5’ at 18”
- PPFD 480 µmol/m²s at 18”
- Lifespan of 100,000 hours
An “Out Of This World” Value: Mars Hydro TS 1000W
Manufactured in China, the Mars Hydro TS 1000W is another budget-friendly LED grow light perfect for small growing spaces. Each of these lightweight setups has over 340 LEDs that give off white and red to mimic natural sunlight. The company also claims its aluminum mounting plate reflects an additional 20 percent of light.
Although the Mars Hydro TS 1000W is a budget play, it has some impressive high-end features. For instance, people who purchase this unit can use a dimmer function. Plus, this setup has no fan, so you don’t have to worry about loud noises in your grow space.
True, this grow light setup doesn’t cover a huge area (3’ x 3’ from a height of 16’’), but that might be all you need in your space. Plus, considering this unit only costs around $150, you get well more than what you paid for.
- Average price: ~$150
- Weighs 3.74 pounds
- Measures 14.17’’ x 13.23’’ x 2.36’’
- Covers 3’ x 3’ from 16’’
- PPFD of 709 µmol/m²s at 18’’
- Lifespan of 50,000 hours
Tiny, But Mighty: Mrhua 300W UFO LED Grow Light
Just because the Mrhua 300W LED Grow Light is small doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch. Measuring only 10” in diameter, this circular-shaped light can cover an impressive 3.2’ x 3.2’ of space from 24”. The secret to Mrhura UFO’s success is a central COB light surrounded by about 80 colored LEDs.
Like the VIPARSPECTRA model, the Mrhua UFO doesn’t cover a ton of space and doesn’t have a dimmer. Still, this is a reasonably priced COB model perfect for cultivators who have a small grow space.
- Average price: ~$80
- Weighs 4.4 pounds
- Measures 10” diameter x 2.6”
- Covers 3.2’ x 3.2’ from a height of 24”
- PPFD ~423 µmol/m²s at 12”
- Lifespan of 50,000 hours
Sleek, Cool, And Wide: Spider Farmer SF-4000 LED Grow Light
If you’ve got money to splurge, you might want to check out Spider Farmer’s sleek SF-4000 LED Grow Light. Each of these setups has 1,212 Samsung LED pcs that give off red, blue, white, and infrared. One of these units will produce well over 1,300 µmol/m²s and provide 5’ x 5’ of coverage from 18”. Plus, you could adjust this unit’s luminosity using a dimmer.
Despite the SF-4000’s thin design, it stays incredibly cool and doesn’t make noise. Plus, the surface of this unit is covered with water-resistant rubber. All of these high-end features translate to a higher price tag, but experienced growers could get a lot of use out of the SF-4000.
- Average price: ~$600
- Weighs 11.5 lbs
- Measures 25.3” x 21.1” x 2.3”
- Covers 5’ x 5’ at 18”
- PPFD of 1320 µmol/m²s at 18”
- Lifespan of 50,000 hours
Ultra-Powerful For A Fair Price: Phlizon 2000W CREE COB LED Grow Light
Are you looking for a COB unit with more space than a Mrhua UFO? If so, you might enjoy the Phlizon 2000W CREE COB LED Grow Light.
Each of these setups has four COBs as well as 68 10w LEDs colored red, blue, UV, infrared, and white. At 18” high, this unit gives off a staggering PPFD of 2,160 µmol/m²s. That’s equivalent to an 800 watt HID system, but it only uses ~400 watts of energy.
Another nice feature of this system is there are two luminosity options. Customers also get free extras like protective glasses, hangers, a ratchet, a thermometer, and a humidity scanner.
- Average price: ~$300
- Weighs 14 pounds
- Measures 12.2” x 3.15” x 21.26”
- Covers 4’ x 4’ at 24”
- PPFD of 2161.4 µmol/m²s at 18”
- Lifespan of 50,000 hours
LED Grow Lights: A Bright Idea For Home-Growers
No matter your skill level, LED grow lights offer indoor cultivators a plethora of positives. Not only are these lights eco-friendly, but they can also produce seriously sticky buds without draining your electricity bill. As long as you follow the suggested tips listed above, you should have no problem using LED grow lights on your ganja growing adventures.